Date story was published: Sunday, October 11, 1998
Back at home, its back to the wall concerning their back-to-a-bowl goal,Kentucky climbed back in the victor's saddle last night, thanks in large partto a running back.
Anthony White, the junior dual threat, rushed for 108 yards on 18 carriesand caught eight passes for 117 more, helping Kentucky hold off a lucklessSouth Carolina 33-28 at Commonwealth Stadium.
"Anthony was phenomenal," said Tim Couch, who is usually the star in UKvictories. "He ran the ball, caught the ball out of the backfield. He's Mr.Versatility."
Last night, White was the top producer for a Team Air Raid that went -yikes - back to the running game, totalling 211 yards via God's green earthto run its record to 4-2 overall and pick up its first SEC victory aftersuccessive road losses to Florida and Arkansas.
"We didn't necessarily want to run it more," Coach Hal Mumme said. "Wewanted to run it farther."
And to a better outcome. "We needed this," said Couch, who threw for 315yards and three touchdowns. "If we had lost tonight, our whole season wouldhave been in doubt."
Not that the win was particularly pretty. The Cats twice took e taking10-point second-half leads (24-14 and then 31-21) only to have the Gamecocksfight back. First South Carolina rallied to within 24-21. And later theGamecocks pulled within 33-28 on a 13-yard pass from backup quarterback PhilPetty to Jermale Kelly with 56 seconds remaining, only to "illegally touch"the ensuing onside kick, giving the ball and game to UK.
"This was another tough and difficult loss for us," South Carolina CoachBrad Scott said. His team dropped to one win and five "tough and difficult"losses, including an 0-4 SEC record. "We've got to learn how to win a game."
The Cats wanted to re-learn the finer points of running the ball after lessthan productive efforts the past two weeks against the SEC's two best rundefenses in Florida and Arkansas.
"We really wanted to emphasize the run tonight," tackle Kris Comstock said."We wanted to come out and establish the running game."
So on the first play out of the chute, they did it Mumme style. Couch fakedto Derek Homer, then gave the ball to wide receiver Quentin McCord. Thesophomore picked up blocks from Jonas Liening and Garry Davis, then used his4.3 speed - "Had an extra gear I didn't use," he said - to shoot down thesideline for an 80-yard score.
"It didn't really look that open when we ran in practice this week," McCordsaid. "I guess we just caught them in the wrong defense."
The rest of the night the Cats caught the visitors in a defense in whichthe Gamecocks dropped their linebackers, allowing White to pick and weave hisway through defenders.
"Anthony got hot and we just kept going to him," running backs coach TonyFranklin said. "I know a lot of people were concerned about the running game,but I never really was. We had played two really good teams who wanted to takeaway the run. When a team tries to take away the pass, like South Carolina didtonight, we showed we can run the ball."
"It did feel a lot like last year," said White, who a year ago became thefirst player in SEC history to rush for at least 700 yards and also catch atleast 59 passes. "We're always going to have a passing game, and when we havea running game to go with it we come out on top."
Midway through the second quarter, however, South Carolina led , thanks toa pair of big plays. Tailback Troy Hambrick went 70 yards on an option pitchto tie the score at 7. Then fellow tailback Boo Williams, a wide openWilliams, took a short pass from quarterback Anthony Wright 62 yards to putthe visitors up 14-7.
The Cats responded with a 63-yard, nine-play drive to tie the score at 14when Couch found Craig Yeast, battling a hip bruise, for a 12-yard touchdown.A 30-yard Seth Hanson field goal 24 seconds before halftime gave the Cats a17-14 lead during the Homecoming festivities.
That became 24-14 midway through the third period when a Couch rifle shotsomehow went through the hands of Gamecocks defensive back Kerry Sullivan andinto the hands of Garry Davis for a 4-yard touchdown.
The Cats had a chance to apply the hammer on the next drive, only to havean illegal formation penalty at the South Carolina 30 cancel a first-downcatch. UK ended up turning the ball over downs, and South Carolina turned thatinto a 10-yard Hambrick touchdown, cutting the lead to 24-21.
Again, UK responded. Couch hit Kevin Coleman for a 19-yard touchdown.
On its next possession, South Carolina bounced a shotgun snap past Petty,who chased it into the end zone. UK linebacker Marlon McCree flattened Pettythere for a safety and UK led 33-21.
"I thought that was the big play of the night for us," defensivecoordinator Mike Major said. "We gave up some big plays, but for a defensethat was missing its two top tacklers in Willie Gary and Jeff Snedegar, Ithought we played pretty well."
Well enough to get back in the win column. How are you feeling now? someoneasked Mumme after the game.
Said the coach, "Like 4-2."